Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Simple Pot of Beans

It was a lovely fall day, probably the last 70-ish degree day we will have before the chill sets in. Leaves are golden and red and falling like colored snowflakes from the trees. After a trip to a pumpkin-and-apple festival in a nearby town, complete with hayride, petting zoo, treehouse playground, pumpkin patch, and freshly picked-and-dunked caramel apples, I came home and started a simple pot of beans for dinner.

My children have always eaten beans, maybe because we have always served them. They are inexpensive, nourishing, and filling, so even in the hardest of times we could sit down to enjoy bean soup or some other dish stretched by the addition of beans. My youngest child does not tolerate meat very well, so beans have been very important for protein in her diet and will continue to be.

Nothing says fall like beans and cornbread for dinner! It is so easy to make... and cheap, and healthy. If you are eating low carb, you may have to ditch the cornbread or only have a small piece; this recipe is *not* Medifast friendly, but it is full of good carbs, so enjoy and be nourished! Even the least experienced cook can make this.


Take a big soup pot and set it on the stove.
Measure out 3-4 cups of dried pinto beans. Rinse them in a colander and pick out any pebbles or other debris. Dump the beans into the pot.
Add about 4 cups of chicken broth or stock (homemade is best, low sodium canned is fine also). Then add 4-5 cups of water.
Chop one medium onion and mince 2 cloves of garlic. Add these to the pot along with 1 tsp salt and 1.5 tsp black pepper. I like to add about 1/2 tsp cumin, but you can leave it out.
Bring this to a boil, give it a stir, turn down the heat, cover it and simmer for a couple of hours... usually 2-3... until the beans are tender but not mushy. Go in and stir it every so often, adding water if needed to keep it from sticking. You want it to be a little soupy. I don't mean tons of broth; I mean when you dish them up there should be a little thickened liquid to sop up with the cornbread. When it is done cooking, taste it and add more salt, pepper, seasonings or Mrs. Dash to taste.

That's it! You can eat these as is, or mash them with a potato masher to make healthy, fat free "refried" beans. You can switch up the seasoning, add ham or bacon, liquid smoke, or more cumin, chili powder and cayenne to give them more of a southwest flavor. You can top them with sour cream, grated cheese, and/or chopped fresh cilantro. You can eat them in tortillas or on a salad. I like them as-is, in a bowl, with cornbread (here's my favorite, healthy cornbread recipe).

Leftovers freeze well or can be mashed into refried beans and used for another meal. I often spread some refried beans on a Carb Balance tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and hot sauce, and put it in my daughter's lunch for school! She eats them cold. Maybe someday I will share my bean muffin recipe with you, too! Nothing like chocolate and beans to perk up your child's after school snack.

Enjoy your weekend!


Maren said...

Ohhh... I just love beans. Love love love! I didn't until I moved to Scotland, but after that I was hooked! Yum!

Diandra said...

Thanks for sharing! Just this morning I was trying to come up with bean recipes, since they are supposed to be healthy and weight-loss-friendly and inexpensive... definitely going to try these!

beerab said...

YUM- looks divine! I love beans too.